UAE: Woman calls 998, says she no longer needs ambulance after hearing officer's voice

People have been asked to call only for emergency cases that require urgent medical intervention


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Tue 5 Apr 2022, 3:24 PM

Last updated: Tue 5 Apr 2022, 10:54 PM

National Ambulance officials have said that 40 per cent of the 44,459 calls received on the emergency number 998 during the first quarter of this year were fake reports and general inquiries.

Officials have asked people in the UAE to avoid calling the ambulance emergency number with general inquiries or for entertainment as this hinders the efforts of the National Ambulance teams.

People have been asked to call only for emergency cases that require urgent medical intervention.

A resident called requesting for eye drops and people called 998 to say they didn’t have a car or did not have money to take a taxi to the hospital. These were among the obstructive calls received by the National Ambulance this year.

According to officials, during the past two years, the number of reports received by the operations centers doubled compared to the monthly average of the number of reports before the outbreak of Covid-19.

The National Ambulance gave examples of some of the obstructive calls it received from some people during the year.


A woman called 998 at 3am and told the liaison officer that she was in a state of fatigue. The caller went on to say: “When I heard your voice, I have been relieved and no longer need the ambulance service.”

Another woman called 998 repeatedly also claiming that she was too fatigued and needed help but turned her phone to the "Do Not Disturb" mode when the paramedics arrived at her house.

In another non-emergency incident, a resident called 998 and asked for an ambulance to take him to the hospital because he didn't have money to pay for a taxi.

Some callers also phoned in to report stray animals or unpaid salaries, while one call handler said someone had called 998 asking where to buy paracetamol tablets.

The National Ambulance said before the pandemic (2019), call operators would handle 6,763 monthly calls on average, but the number soared to 18,537 a month in 2021.

The National Ambulance also said that it received many calls that negatively affected the ambulance work from some people during the Covid-19 period, including a caller who repeatedly called for an ambulance, to transport people, including a grocery worker, her neighbour and others, to the hospital simply because she saw them or heard them coughing.

Ahmed Saleh Al-Hajri, the CEO of the National Ambulance said: “The time factor in the response to an emergency is critical in saving the patient’s life or reducing complications that may threaten their life. A few seconds may be critical in saving the lives of patients and injured in emergency situations."

“We are always prepared to treat life-threatening emergencies and people should only phone in for that. Residents should be responsible as calling for an ambulance inappropriately may cause avoidable delays and have an impact on people who need timely, urgent life-saving treatment."

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